One of my goals for this year is to “give extravagantly, whenever possible.” There are several reasons why I wanted to make this a priority.
Several months ago, something happened that hurt me greatly. So much so, that I had to ask for advice on what to do because I felt my heart becoming cold. I don’t feel it would be appropriate or necessary to give details, but I will say it involved the issue of generosity.
Since then, some other incidents have taken place (some good, some bad) and as a result, I’ve found myself examining the issue of generosity closely.
What is generosity? Why is it important? And what does God have to say about it?
I believe generosity can involve many things …
You can be generous with your money and resources (the most obvious kind of generosity): Everything we have is a blessing. God gives, and God takes away. I serve the most generous God and I am called to be like Him — so why would I choose to live my life in a stingy, selfish way? If I can give good gifts, I should. Now, I don’t always have the money to be lavish with what I give. But there are times when God calls me to step out in faith and give, even when I don’t think I can. We’ve had a lot of weddings to attend this year and my husband and I had to talk through what we felt called to give. Since our wedding, I have felt strongly that this is an opportunity to bless. We may not be able to give as much as some people, but we want the couple to feel loved, supported and encouraged as they begin their lives together.
I was also challenged in my day to day financial generosity by my older sister. One day, she was telling me how whenever our younger sister can, she offers to pay for things: coffee, contributing groceries to dinners, etc. At first, I felt like this was some sort of jab at me. But I began to think of it instead as a challenge: in what areas of my life can I give more? I’m so thankful for my sisters and the way they make me want to be a better woman!
You can be generous with your time: Volunteering comes to mind with this, but additionally, the gift of literally just sitting with someone and talking/listening to them is amazing. I had the opportunity to nanny for a beautiful family this summer and one of the greatest blessings was when I had a chance to talk with the mom. She shared her life with me and in turn, I felt she opened the door for me to share my life with her. She has four children, has been married much longer than I and she has great life experience. I so appreciate her friendship and her willingness to share her time with me. I want to be that person for other people.
You can be generous with your words: I knew that words of affirmation meant a lot to me, but I don’t think I realized just how much I valued them until recently. I love getting mail- ask my husband! I look in our mailbox everyday, hoping for a note from someone! Before my birthday, my mother-in-law sent me two cards with gift cards in both. But ask Ricky what made me happier, the cards or the gift cards? The cards! I was grinning ear to ear like a little kid on Christmas! Words mean so much to me. To know that someone is thinking of me gives me so much happiness. The feeling of being loved and cared for is something that can be conveyed so beautifully through words. So I don’t want to hold back. Compliment people, text them, encourage them. To some people, it will make all the difference in the world.
You can give of your talents, your wisdom, your love … The list goes on and on.
I have been so incredibly blessed to be raised by parents who exemplify living generously every single day. They inspire me. They have shown me what it means to be selfless in a world that increasingly tells us we will only find happiness through being selfish. I want to be more like them. But more importantly, I want to be like my Heavenly Father. Look around you and consider all He has given us. The beauty of islands, the sound of laughter, the fresh scent of a fall day. He is the original gift-giver and while no one can match His generosity, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where people tried?
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Proverbs 11:24
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:37-38